NWTT 2022 - ITI Training Day

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October 27, 2022

Thursday was a training day at the NWTT annual meeting and conference in Hay River. The full-day opportunity for face-to-face professional development and learning is traditionally sponsored by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Leading this year training was former politician and community enthusiast Doug Griffith, author of the book: “13 Ways to Kill Your Community”; a tongue-in-cheek best seller describing the power small communities have to change their future.

Using anecdotes and observations collected from four terms as a rural representative in the Alberta Legislature and working with municipalities on community improvement, Griffith spoke about the importance of collaboration and co-operation between governments and the private sector (what he termed “Co-opetition”) to build flourishing communities that benefit all residents.

“We are not competing with each other anymore,” he said, as businesses, communities, cities, regions or even as provinces/territories. We are competing with other countries.”

Applying a tourism lens, Griffith shared how a positive attitude about change and a willingness to get past the reasons why something won’t succeed, are critical to implementing shifts for the better. “Instead of talking to someone to voice YOUR problems talk to someone and hear THEIR problems and build a solution jointly around it,” he encouraged.

Griffiths delivered an engaging presentation interspersed with humour, personal stories, firsthand observations and motivational examples of success from communities across North America.  He highlighted that communities need to understand what their story is and then share it. He commented on how the SpectacularNWT brand incorporates this principle to great effect and how communities can do the same to attract visitors. “When you focus on one thing really well everything will grow with that,” he noted.  

Griffiths arranged participants into 10 groups to answer three questions about implementing short term, middle term and longer term tourism projects that would make a difference; who would be involved; and, their personal action in the next week to start on one of the initiatives.

As NWTT Members worked together, common themes emerged around building tourism ambassadorship in youth, community beautification projects, establishing community tourism development associations, and various ideas for product and service development.

Spokespeople for each group shared responses. The discussion led into what needs to be done in order to make these ideas happen. The “who we need to talk to starting next week” discussion included: finding community buy-in through connection and collaboration among community associations, community societies, town councils, band offices, elders, Chambers of Commerce, Indigenous Governments, City developers and the list went on.

Applause and cheering followed each groups’ presentation, confirming their engagement and support of the ideas. Participants came away feeling affirmed that tourism is a key piece of community well-being.